Four men have been arrested on Kulhudhuffushi island on suspicion of practising sorcery or black magic for an opposition victory in the September 23 presidential election.
The arrests were made Thursday and Friday with warrants issued by the magistrate court, an island councillor told Raajje TV. Two of the suspects have been identified as Ismail Ibrahim, the council’s highest-ranking civil servant, and Hussain Ali, a senior admin officer.
The magistrate court remanded the two council staff for eight days and the other suspects for five days.
The warrant stated that the suspects were practising black magic to bring the Maldivian Democratic Party to power, and authorised the seizure of material from their homes.
The use of cursed coconuts was also alleged in court after the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Belief in sorcery and black magic, known locally as fanditha and sihuru, is common in the Maldives. Fanditha is allowed for licensed parties under a 1978 law. Sihuru, enlisting demons to harm others, while not illegal is unauthorised and considered taboo.
Sihuru-related arrests have been common in recent years, but suspects are often released without charge due to the complexity of legal action.
In October, the authorities discussed ways to strengthen the legal framework as the current penal code does not have a specific provision for black magic and sorcery.
In August 2015, the Maldives Fiqh Academy, then an advisory body of religious scholars, warned against the promotion of black magic in the media after opposition figures linked the uprooting of old trees at the Republic square and removal of the Republic monument in Malè to President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged fear of sorcery.
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